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Why Therapists Need An Elevator Speech

96th floor

An “elevator speech,” also called a basic practice message, is a brief statement of what you do. It should take no longer than it takes to ride a few floors on an elevator and is a crucial aspect of marketing your private practice.

Whenever you talk about or write about your practice, your elevator speech will help you to provide a cohesive and consistent message that attracts your ideal client and builds your private practice. Over time, your message will help you create enough awareness about your practice that people will know who you are and what you do.

The goal is to have people say, “Oh, he’s the one who helps couples create closer marriages.” or “She’s the therapist who helps kids with attention problems find ways to succeed in school.”

Unfortunately, most therapists don’t have an elevator speech. Ask a therapist the simple question, “What do you do?” you’ll likely get a long, jargon filled, tentative statement that might sound something like this:

“I’m a licensed professional counselor and LSAC and I work at at the Community Mental Health Center full-time in the day treatment center for A&D. Oh, and I have a private practice on the side, at night, where I see and I work with children…and some adults, to. I also like working with trauma and I’m trained in EMDR and I also use a lot of CBT. I’m on a lot of EAP panels and I see some CVR clients. I see some couples too…I like couples.

You really can’t tell who he wants to see in his practice, what he does, or why anyone would go to him for therapy, right? So, here’s what makes a great elevator speech.

Characteristics of an effective therapist “elevator speech”

  • A few short sentences about who you are and what you do
  • Uses layman’s terms (no psychobabble and professional acronyms)
  • Uses positive language
  • Focuses on the benefits of your services for your ideal clients, not the features of your practice or credentials (your licenses, degrees, specialty areas)
  • Focuses on only one aspect of your work
  • Targets your ideal client
  • Is memorized so you can deliver it on the spot

How To Create Your Elevator Speech

Here’s a quick “fill in blank” formula to get you started on your effective elevator speech.

“I’m ___________________________________________.

I help ___________________________________________

do/understand/change/create/find ______________________

so they can _______________________________________.”

Here are some examples of my elevator speeches.

I’m therapist Julie Hanks. I help overwhelmed women find a healthy balance between caring for themselves and their family relationships so they can live fulfilling and meaningful lives.

I’m a therapist turned business consultant. I inspire therapists to build successful practices by helping them identify their passions and develop basic business skills so they can make a good living doing what they love.

During my therapy clinic staff meetings I periodically ask my therapists on the spot to give their basic message/elevator speech. One day I surprised them by asking them to give their basic message on camera for a promotional video for our website. You can watch the video here to see how they did and maybe it will spark some ideas for you.

So, now it’s your turn. How do you answer the question, “So…what do you do?” Feel free to post your basic message below and I’ll give you feedback!

photo credit: dfritzon

About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to TV Shows and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available. Dr. Hanks is currently accepting coaching clients.


[…] An elevator speech, or practice message, is the building block of marketing your private therapy practice. Getting comfortable saying what you do and how your work helps your clients is essential to drawing additional clients to your practice. In case you missed it, here’s a link to Why Therapists Need an Elevator Speech (part 1). […]

[…] When I first started blogging a couple of years ago, I suffered from self-doubt and nagging questions. What if I spend all of this time writing a blog and no one reads it? What if I don’t sound dumb? What if I get mean comments about my posts? Where do I start? What should I blog about? How often should I blog? If you’re a therapist wanting to start a blog, or you have a blog that is rarely updated, here are some quick tips to help you gain the confidence to blog consistently and reach more potential clients with your practice message. […]


Hello, my name is Jen Bajackson. I use animals to help individuals and families find solutions to their problems. My company is Stable Solutions and I am an equine-assisted therapist.

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Nicely done, Jen. Have you had a chance to try it out yet when someone asks, “What do you do?”

Jordan Goodman

I’m Jordan Goodman. I use drumming and rhythm exercises to help kids with attention and anxiety issues. They learn how to more clearly connect with themselves and others. Our time spent also helps improve their self-esteem.

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